There's a shocking moment when your sweet little angel of a daughter reaches about 11 or 12 when you realize what's ahead. For me, that moment came one day last summer when I asked my daughter -- in front of her posse of friends -- to gather up everyone's dirty dishes and return them to the kitchen. Instead of replying, "Sure Mom, I should have done it earlier," she rolled her eyes in exasperation without realizing I could see her.
It was at that moment that I remembered my own teenage years. I was a dreadful creature, I now admit, eager to do anything in my power to avoid becoming a wife and mother "just like her" -- my own very amazing mom. I rolled my eyes a lot. And now, I'm pretty sure, it's payback time.
Daughters are beautiful beings and I thank my lucky stars every day that I have one. But with my two sons, I always know where I stand. Girls can be a tad trickier. With psychological warfare playing out every day at her middle school, my daughter's grown pretty adept at giving my emotions a workout at home as well. Does she love me? Does she hate me? On some days, it's hard to tell.
Partly because I see her as an extension of myself, my daughter can push my buttons as no one else can. I want her to "want" to hang out with me while -- at the same time -- exert her independence while doing all the things and going all the places I never got to do or go to when I was her age.
I couldn't be more excited for her as she blossoms into a lovely young woman. I also couldn't be more nervous over what heartbreaks might await her. But in addition to excitement and nervousness there's a hint of another emotion buried deep inside my chest -- envy. No, I don't want to be 12 again, but sometimes I can't help but marvel at certain aspects of my daughter's life.
For fun, I compiled this list of seven reasons why I'm jealous -- just sometimes -- of my daughter. What would you add? Let us know in comments.
1. I'm jealous of the way she can go ice skating, with awkward limbs flailing about -- her inexperienced body falling every which way -- and still look cute as a button. If I did the same, my ankles would collapse every 20 seconds and I'd look as though I tippled one too many glasses of red wine, as silly as a naked man in socks.
2. I'm jealous at how tech-savvy she is. Somewhere along the way, she morphed into a technological wizard, a master of Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, who video chats as comfortably as I used to talk on my corded Princess phone. Meanwhile, I spent a solid 20 minutes the other night trying to figure out how to turn our TV from Xbox mode back to, well, TV mode. I'm not kidding. I really did.
3. I'm jealous of her ability to have unabashed fun. She derives great pleasure from painting her nails, playing with the dog and decorating cupcakes. I have a lovely life. But instead of expressing wonder at it, I'm too often focused on what I don't have or on what I need to get done next week.
4. I'm jealous she can get away with wearing very funky outfits. She actually wore purple galaxy tights -- covered in a print from a photo taken by NASA of an actual galaxy -- to school. In the daytime. And no one batted an eye. Indeed, she can wear mismatched socks and walk out of the house with major bed head -- and she's adorable.
5. I'm jealous of the way my husband's eyes light up when he sees her. Don't get me wrong -- it's wonderful to see my husband so crazy about his little girl. I wouldn't want it any other way. But there's definitely an ongoing adjustment at play here. Every time my husband says "How's my girl?" when he walks in the door from work -- yes, referring to our daughter -- I can't help but think back to a time when he would have been talking about me.
6. I'm jealous that my daughter has no laugh lines or blackheads, that her thighs don't touch when she walks. I'm jealous she can devour a whole can of whipped cream and not suffer the consequences. I'm jealous that she has decades of double-takes from admiring young men ahead of her.
7. I'm jealous of all the wide open doors she has yet to walk through -- first kiss! study abroad! -- and contemplate a story that is still waiting to be written while the book of my life is more than halfway finished.
Despite the above, I'm not going to wallow in the realization of all I've left behind. This is only a momentary lapse. My daughter is gorgeous and confident. She lights up my life. But the next time she does something like ask my husband to paint her room -- and he does so the following weekend even though I've been asking him to help me paint the front porch for months -- I'm going to roll my eyes. A lot.